Recommended Children’s Classic Reading List

Early exposure to reading will benefit your child in numerous ways. Reading comprehension leads to higher test scores, greater understanding of the material and an improved ability of self-expression.

For children in elementary school, your ultimate goal should be to make reading fun and effortless. When reading starts to feel like hard work, students can form a negative impression about reading that can greatly influence their academic performance for years to come. So never discount the entertainment value of certain books, especially for early readers who may be struggling. Kids will typically work harder if they’re having fun.

How We Created Our Reading List 

This list is for all elementary school children. We’ve selected a wide variety of classic fairy tales, myths, and folklore. Children have been drawn to these stories for hundreds of years. This is because these classic children’s tales:

  • have relatable protagonists (often children)
  • take place in a world kids recognize but with additional fantasy elements
  • have simple plots, and a clear chain of events
  • have a moral lesson that is easy to understand and appreciate

Plus, fairy tales provide the basis for many popular Disney movies. Kids can read the story and then compare/contrast the original work to the film. This can lead to discussions about story intent, meaning, and presentation.

Using Classic Stories in the Homeschool Classroom

These stories can be used to teach different lessons depending on the grade. For younger students, simply reading the words out loud is a great goal. For older students, these stories can be analyzed on a deeper level. Since these stories all have clear themes, they’re a good example of how to separate theme from plot points.

Plus, these stories all involve animals, mythical figures and the outdoors. Aside from their use as reading lessons, these stores also expose children to ideas from history, science and other academic subjects. Teachers can use them as springboards for additional learning. Just read Paul Bunyon? Have your older students do their own research on some of the world’s actual tallest people. Learn some fun facts about oxen. The possibilities are limitless

Benefits of Reading in a Homeschool Setting

Homeschooled kids have a huge advantage over other types of students. Namely, homeschooled children can have their lessons tailored to their interests. If your student really enjoys one of the books below, you can use the subject as a springboard for additional topics. You might want to check out stories by the same author or about the same subject.

Another advantage of homeschool is that your child will have the same teacher year after year. So as you introduce more advanced lessons throughout elementary school, you can return to these classic books as necessary. For instance, young children can use Aesop’s Fables to practice reading out loud. But older children can re-read the same fables and use them as a way to discuss the various issues of morality presented in the stories.

Reading Goals for Elementary School Students

Goals vary from year to year. Generally speaking, you want to build and expand on lessons from year to year.

Early Elementary School (Grades One and Two)

The main idea here is to teach reading strategies. These include how to:

  • understand unknown words based on context
  • identify the main idea of a story
  • name and identify basic parts of speech
  • write a simple letter such as a thank you letter
  • understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction
  • identify basic punctuation marks such as capital letters and periods

Later Elementary School (Grades Three, Four and Up)

Older students should have a pretty solid grasp on the above, which means then can now focus on more sophisticated forms of reading. These include how to:

  • read to gain new information
  • identify themes in a story
  • read critically, with an eye on facts versus opinions
  • recognize various genres of text including fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, science fiction and more
  • read independently and then answer questions related to the material
  • read multi-chapter stories
  • read out loud with confidence and clarity

Obviously, every student is different. One big advantage of homeschool instruction is that you can help you child/student with personal attention in any areas they’re having trouble in. So don’t worry too much about hitting every goal in relation to the grade. Instead, work on establishing a solid foundation of basic reading skills and then continually building on those skills.

The Classic Reading List

This children’s classic reading list includes some must-have selections for your home library. These are great read-aloud books for younger children and great independent reading for upper elementary. They are especially appropriate for 3rd to 5th-grade students who love a good adventure story!

These stories have sparked the imagination of children for decades. We love these stories and think your family will enjoy them too!

Click on the story link for a complete description and reviews from Amazon if you want to learn more.

Recommending Reading List of  Children’s Classic Books:

206xNxchildrenclassicreadinglist.jpg.pagespeed.ic.PQ9hXQQgciAesop’s Fables, by Aesop

Fables, by Arnold Lobel

The Fisherman and His Wife, by Jacob Grimm, Farrar

Johnny Appleseed, retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Llama and the Great Flood; a Folktale from Peru, by Ellen Alexander Mr. Yowder and the Train Robbers, by Glen Rounds

The Nutcracker Ballet, retold by Deborah Hautig

Paul Bunyan, retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Pecos Bill, retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Noami Lewis

The Tale of Three Trees, retold by Anglea Elwell Hunt

Reading to Create a Personal Connection

You probably were exposed to a fair amount of these tales as a child yourself. Now you can share these fun stories with your child. You can read them during class time, bedtime or whenever is convenient.

Plus, because this is a homeschool, you’re not just the teacher. You’re the parent, too! So you can use your connection to these stories to strengthen familial connections within the family.

For instance, say your dad read you “The Snow Queen” as a child. You can tell your child this and then tell them about what you were like when you were the same age as the child. You can also talk about Grandpa and what life was like when he was your child’s age. These classic tales are often read by multiple generations, which can be a great way to teach your child about history – including family history.


Elementary school can be a fun, exciting time for you, your child, and your homeschool. Reading to your child and having your child read to you are a great way to instill an early love of reading. From there, lessons help your child’s reading comprehension, critical thinking skills, and writing skills grow year after

Click here to see more Recommended Reading Lists by grade level.